Accusing Government of releasing only snippets, the leader of the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) is demanding full disclosure of the controversial 2015 tank lease arrangement between the Barbados Water Authority (BWA) and Innotech Services Limited – signed during the DLP’s regime.
Verla Depeiza contends that Barbadians are being asked to make judgements about the five-year deal for the rental of 104 tanks at a cost of $51,000 per month, without knowing all the facts.
Since the BWA claimed that the local construction firm uprooted the community tanks from around the island specifically to sell to help recoup some of the millions of dollars owed to it by the authority, the DLP has been on the receiving end of much criticism for presiding over the deal.
The DLP leader told Barbados TODAY that she was not in Cabinet under Freundel Stuart and therefore had no knowledge of the details of the contract or who authorized it. She therefore argued that Government owed it to the public to be fully transparent on the matter.
“I can’t make any determination on the issue. I just have a lot of questions. I want to know who negotiated on behalf of Government of Barbados and I also want to know who negotiated on the part of Innotech. I think both of those are very important questions and I would also like to see the contract because we have been all talking in circles but no one has seen the details of the deal,” she said, referring to an apparent contradictory account from a former BWA manager.
Former manager of the BWA’s since-disbanded Corporate Communications and Rapid Response Unit, Joy-Ann Haigh, told Barbados TODAY she had given Innotech Services verbal instructions to remove, sanitize and reinstate all the community tanks during the weeks leading up to Christmas, as was the standard practice under the programme since 2016.
“I did send the instructions, which is a fact. I told them verbally. I received correspondence from them to confirm receipt. I believe that there was miscommunication, because people in there [BWA] should have known that this [removal of the tanks at this time] was the norm. It seemed to be a genuine mistake,” said Haigh, one of the scores of BWA employees sent home earlier this month as part of Government’s restructuring programme.
BWA Chairman Leodeane Worrell was adamant that the timing of those instructions was totally unrelated to last week’s action by Innotech to take up the tanks which it had leased to the BWA for the supply of potable water to northern parishes of Barbados which had been experiencing chronic outages and shortages.
Depeiza argues that Government was now duty-bound to end the confusion by releasing all documentation pertaining to the deal.
“I am hoping that there would be some sort of press conference that will give us all of the information to the questions that people are asking. I think it is important that we know everything and if we could see the contracts and signatures then that will be great,” she said.
The DLP president added that seeing the supporting paperwork for the arrangement, which dates back to 2015, was the only way that the public “could have a meaningful discussion on the basis of something that we have seen and not innuendo where one side is saying one thing and the other side saying something else”.